Can Chiropractic Help Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by muscle pain and fatigue.
The pain and tenderness felt throughout the body can make it difficult to get good sleep, as well as to perform daily tasks. Fibromyalgia can affect anyone, but a large proportion of sufferers are women. It is often diagnosed in middle age, and can accompany other painful conditions such as arthritis, lupus, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, or endometriosis.
There are no specific tests to determine whether a person has fibromyalgia.
The guidelines that help doctors diagnose fibromyalgia include a history of three months or more of widespread pain, fatigue and poor sleep, cognitive or memory impairment, and the number of places in the body where pain is reported. Pain used to be diagnosed by testing nine pairs of tender spots throughout the body, but in 2010 the American College of Rheumatology introduced a new system using a widespread pain index and a symptom severity scale. Fibromyalgia may have a genetic component, perhaps related to how affected people’s nervous systems respond to pain. It can be triggered by a stressful event (either physically or psychologically stressful), an illness, repetitive injury, or disease.
Because fibromyalgia may be perceived as a pain in the muscles and soft tissues of the body, people may assume that massage would be more beneficial than chiropractic care, but chiropractic care is an important part of managing pain. Studies show that chiropractic care also helps reduce pain for people with fibromyalgia because keeping the body and spine in alignment helps keep neural pathways clear, and helps prevent pain caused by misalignment. This can lead to better sleep.
Chiropractors can also help patients identify stress and its effects on the body.
Learning how to reduce or manage stress is particularly crucial for people with fibromyalgia. Stress can be caused by circumstances, emotional responses, physical trauma, and toxins. All of these can lead to inflammation, that root of all disease. By helping patients move toward an anti-inflammatory state through proper body alignment, diet, and exercise, chiropractors can help reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body.
It is important for patients with fibromyalgia to have the support to structure their daily life carefully.
Taking time to rest and avoid overstimulation and stress is important. Chiropractors are trained to look holistically at a patient and to help put everything in the context of a whole life, and so can offer this kind of support. Since there is currently no treatment protocol for fibromyalgia, it is beneficial to work with someone who is familiar with it and who can offer a wide range of treatments to help mitigate the symptoms that make daily life so difficult.
Chiropractors may also be able to guide you to massage therapists, cognitive behavior therapists, and other specialists who may be able to help you address all your symptoms. Having a care team to help you choose treatments and evaluate their effectiveness is a key form of support for patients with fibromyalgia.